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Traditional Medicinal Plants in Primary Health Care: Economic and Medicinal Plant Research Volume 4. Plants and Traditional Medicine.
H. Wagner and N. R. 1990. Academic Press, Inc. San Diego, CA 92101. 174 pp. Hardcover. $59.00. ISBN 0-12-730065-1.

Volume 4 in this series represents papers given at the "Symposium on the Role of Plants and Traditional Medicine in Primary Health Care," held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the Society for Economic Botany in 1987. According to the editors, the objective of organizing the symposium was to bring together experts, primarily from developing counties where traditional medicines play a major role in primary health care. The first paper, by Dr. O. Akerele, head of the WHO's Traditional Medicine Programme, provides a general overview and introduction to the worldwide role of traditional medicine. The role and status of medicinal plant usage in eight countries follows, covering traditional medicine practices in China, Ghana, India, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Samoa, and Thailand. These papers detail specific traditional medicine systems within their respective countries, and their current status. Statistical information is provided, along with training practices, the relationshi p to Western-style medicine, and the legal status. Each of the authors were asked to detail at least six species that they believed to be truly effective and deserving of more widespread use or research. The tenth and final paper in the book, by Alexander M. Schmidt, deals with "Problems and Prospects in the Registration of Traditional Medicines." This is a rather simplistic overview of the FDA drug approval process, with a focus on chemical isolates as potential of future drugs. Nothing new or insightful here. However, just as the eight preceding chapters detail the position of traditional medicine in their respective cultures, the final chapter serves to detail the position of traditional medicine in the United States. It has no position. The reviews of national medical modalities contained in this volume provide an excellent broad picture of the direction of traditional medicine in the modern world.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.